Heroin: An Illustrated History

Susan Boyd

This illustrated history of two centuries of Canadian heroin regulation reveals the deep roots of our current failure to address the overdose death epidemic caused by criminalizing and pathologizing drug users and resisting harm-reduction policies. From its discovery in 1898, heroin was prescribed for therapeutic use in Canada. With little evidence of the harm of heroin, its prohibition has been tied up with colonization and systemic racism as well as class and gender injustice. Using documentary evidence and the experiences of people who use/used heroin, drug user unions and harm-reduction advocates, Boyd argues that in order to create a more just future, prohibition and punitive policies that drive the illegal overdose crisis must end.

bustedBusted: An Illustrated History of Drug Prohibition in Canada

Susan Boyd

Busted is a visually engaging illustrated history of Canadian drug prohibition and resistance to that prohibition. Reproducing drawings, paintings, photographs, film stills and official documents from the 1700s to the present, Susan Boyd shows how Canada’s drug prohibition policies evolved and were shaped by race, class and gender discrimination. This history demonstrates that prohibition and criminalization produces harm rather than benefits. Today Canada is at a cross- roads. Increasingly, drug prohibition is understood as a social justice and human rights issue. Busted asks what Canada’s history of drug prohibition says about its future? Fernwood Publishing 2017.

bookcover   More Harm than Good: Drug policy in Canada

Susan Boyd, Connie Carter, and Donald MacPherson

 More Harm than Good examines the past and current state of Canadian drug policy, especially as it evolved under the Conservative government, and raises key questions about the effects of Canada’s involvement in and commitment to the war on drugs. Fernwood Publishing 2016.


clip_image002_001From Witches to Crack Moms: Women, Drug Law and Policy

Susan Boyd

In this 2015 revised second edition, Susan Boyd examines how the regulation of altered states of consciousness and women’s bodies is not new. Like the witches of old, women suspected of using illegal drugs today are persecuted and punished. From Witches to Crack Moms offers a critique of drug law and policy and its impact on women in the United States and illuminates similarities and differences in Britain and Canada. Carolina Academic Press.


KillerWeedKiller Weed: Marijuana grow-ops, media, and justice.

Susan C. Boyd, Connie I. Carter

Since the late 1990s, Canadian police, city and provincial task forces, the RCMP, and a number of politicians have identified marijuana grow operations as a new and dangerous criminal activity of “epidemic” proportions. With Killer Weed, Susan C. Boyd and Connie Carter use their analysis of fifteen years of newspaper coverage to show how that consensus was created and spread through the media in British Columbia, and how it has affected Canada’s intensifying war on drugs.

Boyd and Carter carefully show how the media go to the same spokespeople to tell the same story again and again, and how that message has led to an expanding anti-drug campaign that use BC Hydro and local municipalities to crack down on drug production.Going beyond the newspapers, Killer Weed examines how legal, political, and civil initiatives have emerged from the media narrative and the troubling consequences for Canadian civil society. University of Toronto Press 2014.

rs2Raise Shit! Social Action Saving Lives

Susan C. Boyd, Donald MacPherson and Bud Osborn

This book tells a story about community activism in Vancouver’s Downtown East Side (DTES) that culminated in a social justice movement to open the first official safe injection site. This story is unique: it is told from the point of view of drug users — those most affected by drug policy, political decisions and policing. It provides a montage of poetry, photos, early Vancouver Area Network of Drug Users (VANDU) meetings, journal entries from the Back Alley, the “unofficial” safe injection site, and excerpts from significant health and media reports. The harms of prohibition, and resistance, hope, kindness, awakening and collective action are chronicled in these pages. Available from Fernwood Publishing.


 hookedHooked: Drug War Films in Britain, Canada, and the United States

 Drug prohibition emerged at the same time as the discovery of film, and their histories intersect in interesting ways. This book examines the ideological assumptions embedded in the narrative and imagery of one hundred fictional drug films produced in Britain, Canada, and the U.S. from 1912 to 2006, including Broken Blossoms, Reefer Madness, The Trip, Superfly, Withnail and I, Traffik, Traffic, Layer Cake, Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle, Trailer Park Boys, and more. Boyd focuses on past and contemporary illegal drug discourse about users, traffickers, drug treatment, and the intersection of criminal justice with counterculture, alternative, and stoner flicks. She provides a socio-historical and cultural criminological perspective, and an analysis of race, class and gender representations in illegal drug films. Available in softcover from University of Toronto Press, and in hardcover from Routledge


clip_image002_000With Child: Substance Use During Pregnancy, A Woman-Centred Approach

Edited by Susan C. Boyd  & Lenora Marcellus

 Drug use is among the behaviours that are associated with or a consequence of poverty. The contributors to this volume propose that those who provide services for pregnant drug using women must recognize that care of women with social problems that affect pregnancy outcomes should be approached in the same way as care for women with medical problems that have obstetric consequences. This book provides practitioners and researchers with valuable information about maternal drug use, best practices and policy. Available from Fernwood Publishing.



clip_image002_004Mothers and Illicit Drugs: Transcending the Myths

During the past decade, media and medical forces have combined to create an alarming view of pregnant mothers who use illicit drugs. The result has been increased state control of these women and their infants. This in-depth study is the first in Canada to look at how mothers who use illicit drugs regard the laws, medical practices, and social services that intervene in their lives. Focusing on practices in western Canada, Susan C. Boyd argues that licit and illicit drug categories are artificial and dangerous and that the evidence for neonatal syndrome (NAS) is suspect and ideologically driven. She shows that racialized and poor women are treated much more harshly by authorities, that current regulations erode women’s civil liberties, and that social control is the aim of drug policy and law. The study highlights mothers’ views of the NAS program at Sunny Hill Hospital for Children in Vancouver in the mid-1990s.  Writing from a critical feminist perspective, Boyd exposes some surprising social fictions – those that separate ‘good’ and ‘bad’ drugs, as they do ‘good’ and ‘bad’ mothers. University of Toronto Press.


clip_image002_000Abusing Power: The Canadian Experience

Edited by Susan C. Boyd, Dorothy E. Chunn, Robert Menzies

This book is about crime, law, power and social (in)justice. The contributors include academics, legal practitioners, journalists and social activists who have been studying and struggling for years against the abuse of power in myriad realms of Canadian life. This book represents the first systematic effort in this country to integrate a variety of topics related to power abuse into a single collection.


clip_image002_001Toxic Criminology: Environment, Law and the State in Canada

Edited by Susan C. Boyd, Dorothy E. Chunn & Robert Menzies

Toxic Criminology is the work of an asemblage of academics, activists, politicians and legal practitioners, all of whom harbour a wide range of interests and involvements in the study of, and resistance against, environmental wrongdoing. Individually and collectively, the authors address theoretical, politico-economic, legal, cultural and human dimensions of crimes and harms against the Canadian environment.

Selected Journal Articles:

Boyd, S., Ivsins, A., & Murray, D. (2020). Problematizing the DSM-5 criteria for Opioid Use Disorder:  A qualitative analysis. International Journal of Drug Policy, 78.

Boyd, S., & Norton, A. (2019). Addiction and heroin-assisted treatment: Legal discourse and drug reform. Contemporary Drug Problems, 46(3), 265-281.

Boyd, S., MacDonald, D., & VANDU. (2019). The harms of drug prohibition: Ongoing resistance in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside. BC Studies: The British Columbia Quarterly, Winter, (200), 87-102.

Boyd, S.  (2018). Gendered Drug Policy: Motherisk and the Regulation of Mothering in Canada. International Journal of Drug Policy, 68,

Boyd, S. (2017) A call to action: Women and the drug war. Contemporary Justice Review, 20(3), 297-298, DOI: 10.1080/10282580.2017.1347405

Boyd, S., Murray, D. & SNAP, & MacDonald, D. (2017). Telling Our Stories: Heroin-Assisted Treatment and SNAP Activism in the Downtown Eastside of Vancouver. Harm Reduction Journal, 14(27). DOI: 10.1186/s12954-017-0152-3

Boyd, J., Boyd, S., Kerr, T. (2015). Visual and Narrative Representations of Mental Health and Addiction by Law Enforcement, International Journal of Drug Policy, 26(7): 636-644.

Boyd, J. & Boyd, S. (2014). Women’s activism in a drug user union in the DTES. Contemporary Justice Review, 17 (3): 313-325.

 Boyd, S. (2014). The criminal addict: Canadian radio documentary discourse, 1957-1969. Contemporary Drug Problems, 41(2), 201-232.

Boyd, S. (2013). A Canadian Perspective on Documentary Film: Drug Addict. International Journal of Drug Policy, 24(6): 589-596.

Boyd, S. & NPA (2013). Yet they failed to do so: Recommendations based on the experiences of NAOMI Research Survivors and a Call for Action. Harm Reduction Journal, 10(6),

Boyd, S. (2012). Drugpeace. Contemporary Justice Review: Issues in Criminal, Social, and Restorative Justice, 15(2): 163-171.

Boyd, S., & Carter, C. (2011). Using children: Marijuana grow-ops, media, and policy. Critical Studies in Media Communication, 29(3): 238-257. (Boyd ½, Carter ½)

Bungay, V., Johnson, J., Varcoe, C., & Boyd, S. (2010). The Context of Crack Cocaine Use: The Perspectives of Women who Use, International Journal of Drug Policy, 21: 321-329.

Boyd, S., & Carter, C. (2010). Methamphetamine discourse: Media, law and policy. Canadian Journal of Communications, 35(2), 219-237.

Boyd, S. (2009). High: Marijuana, women and the law. Canadian Journal of Women and the Law, Special Issue: Law, Film and Feminism, 21(1), 35-54.

Bungay, V, Johnson, J., Boyd, S. Malchy, L., Buxton, J., & Loudfoot, J. (2009). Women’s Stories/Women’s Lives: Creating Safer Crack Kits. Women’s Health & Urban Life: An International & Interdisciplinary Journal, 8(1): 28-41.

Boyd, S., Johnson, J., & Moffat, B. (2008). Opportunities to learn and barriers to change: Crack-cocaine use and harm reduction in the Downtown Eastside of Vancouver. Harm Reduction Journal, 5(34): 1-12.

Boyd, S. (2008). Community-based research in the Downtown Eastside of Vancouver. Resources for Feminist Research, Special Issue: Decolonizing Space, 33(1/2): 19-43.

Boyd, S. (2007). Drugs films, justice, and nationhood. Contemporary Justice Review, 10(3): 263-282.

Boyd, S. & Macrory, F. (2007). Developing comprehensive primary and secondary services for drug and alcohol dependent mothers. Seminars in Fetal and Neonatal Medicine, 12: 119-126.

Boyd, S. (2004). Femmes et drogues: Survol des lois et des conflits mere/Etat aux Etats-Unis et au Canada. Psychotropes, 10(3-4): 153-172.

Boyd, S. (2002). Media Depictions of Drugs, Users, and Traffickers: Another look at Traffic. International Journal of Drug Policy, 13(5): 397-407.

Boyd, S. (2001). Feminist Research on Mothers and Illegal Drugs. Resources for Feminist Research, 28(3): 113-130.

Boyd, S. (2001). The Regulation of Altered States of Consciousness: A history of repression and resistance. Contemporary Justice Review, 4(1), 71-100.

Boyd, S. & Faith, K. (1999). Women, Illicit Drugs and Prison: Views from Canada. International Journal of Drug Policy, 10, 195-207.

Boyd, S. (1995). Critical and Historical Overview of Reproductive Autonomy: Implications for Midwifery. Aspiring Midwife, 9(Summer), 15-17.

Boyd, S. (1994). Women and Illicit Drug Use. The International Journal of Drug Policy, 5(3), 185-189. Reprinted in International News Magazine: Women and Drugs, 1996, 2(1).


Boyd, S., Murray, D., & NAOMI Patients Association (2017). Ethics, Research and Advocacy: The Experiences of the NAOMI Patients Association in the Downtown Eastside of Vancouver. In M. Marrow and L. Halinka Malcoe (Eds.), Critical Inquiries for Social Justice in Mental Health (365-385). Toronto: University of Toronto Press.

Boyd, S., Carter, C., MacPherson, D. (2017). Making drug use into a problem: The politics of drug policy in Canada. In W. Antony, J. Antony, & L. Samuelson (Eds.), Power and Resistance: Critical thinking about Canadian Social Issues (344-379). Winnipeg: Fernwood.

Boyd, S. (2016, revised). Representations of women in the drug trade. Reprinted in Gender, Law & Justice, compiled by Emily van der Meulen. Winnipeg: Fernwood Publishing.

Boyd, S. (2016). A Canadian perspective on documentary film: Drug Addict. In C. Picart & C. Greek (Eds.), Framing Law & Crime. NY: Rowman & Littlefield.

Boyd. S. (2011). Women, substance use and pregnancy. (Chapter 32). In R. Immarigeon (Ed.), Women & Girls in the Criminal Justice System: Policy Issues and Practice Strategies (Volume II). Kingston, NJ: Civic Research Institute.

Boyd, S. (2011). Pleasure and pain: Representations of illegal drug consumption, addiction, and trafficking in music, film, and video. In S. Fraser and D. Moore (Eds.). The Drug Effect: Health, crime and society (57-72). London: Cambridge Press.

Boyd, S. (2010). Reefer Madness and Beyond. In M. Deflem (Ed.), Popular Culture, Crime, and Social Control, Sociology of Crime, Law, and Deviance, Volume 14, (pp. 3-24). Bingley, UK: Emerald Group Publishing.

Boyd, S. (2007). Women, drug regulation, and maternal/state conflicts. In M. Morrow, O. Hankivsky, & C. Varcoe (Eds.). Women’s Health in Canada: Critical Perspective on Theory and Policy (pp. 327-354). Toronto: University of Toronto Press.

Boyd, S. (2007). The Journey to compassionate care. In S. Boyd & L. Marcellus (Eds.). With Child, Substance Use During Pregnancy: A Woman-Centred Approach (pp. 10-19). Halifax: Fernwood.

Boyd, S. (2007). Drug scares and practice: Socio-historical considerations. In S. Boyd & L. Marcellus (Eds.). With Child, Substance Use During Pregnancy: A Woman-Centred Approach (pp. 20-27). Halifax: Fernwood.

Boyd, S. (2006). Representations of women in the drug trade. In G. Balfour & E. Comack (Eds.). Criminalizing Women: Gender an (In)justice in Neo-Liberal Times (pp. 131-151). Halifax: Fernwood.

Boyd, S., Chunn, D., Menzies, R. (2002). “We all live in Bhopal.”In S. Boyd, D. Chunn, & R. Menzies (Eds.). Toxic Criminology: Environment, Law and the State in Canada. (pp. 7-24). Halifax: Fernwood.

Boyd, S., Chunn, D., Menzies, R. (2001). Introduction. In S. Boyd, D. Chunn, & R. Menzies (Eds.). [Ab]Using Power: The Canadian Experience (pp. 11-24). Halifax: Fernwood.

Boyd, S. & Marcellus, L. (2007). Harm reduction in action: Future directions. In S. Boyd & L. Marcellus (Eds.). With Child, Substance Use During Pregnancy: A Woman-Centred Approach (pp. 111-119). Halifax: Fernwood.


Boyd, S., Ivsins, A., Dave Murray, & SNAP (2019, March 15). Eight years on: SNAP and its members, 2019. Vancouver, BC: Authors. SNAP Report Final.pdf

McLellan, A, Boyd, S., Chan, G., Jesso, M., Kendall, P., Souccar, R., von Tigerstrom, B., Ware, M., & Zahn, C. (2016, December). A Framework for the Legalization and Regulation of Cannabis in Canada (109 pages). Ottawa: Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, and Minister of Health. See:

Boyd, S., & Vukmirovich, D. (2015, January). Forum Report: Challenging drug prohibition and the regulation of reproduction and mothering (34 pages). Available at:

Boyd, S. & SNAP (2013). SNAP: Telling Our Stories, Heroin-Assisted Treatment and Advocacy (43 pages). Vancouver, November 30, 2013. Available at www.drug

Boyd, J. & Boyd, S. (2013). Strengths and Travels of DTES Women (8 pages). Vancouver, November 26, 2013.

Boyd, S., & The NAOMI Patients Association (February, 2012). NAOMI Research Survivors: Experiences and Recommendations (37 pages). Vancouver, BC.

Johnson, J., Malchy, L., Moffat, B., Boyd, S., Buxton, J., Bungay, V., Loudfoot, J. (June 2008). Lessons Learned from the SCORE Project: A document to support outreach and education related to safer crack use (61 pages).